Move Fast, Drive Low: 6 Stealth Highway Vehicles
Perception is reality, they say. Consider the driver of a red Ferrari tip-toeing through a school zone at 25.5 mph only to be pulled over for speeding. On the other hand, take the case of a salesperson in an innocuous Ford Taurus barreling down the freeway at 85 mph, completely overlooked by a cop. After all no one drives a Taurus at 85 mph. The difference is one of perception. You expect the Ferrari to be driven quickly, the Taurus not. Now here’s the fun part: we can use that to our advantage and select a car that blends in with traffic but rivals the performance of more expensive, and flashier cars. Let’s look at a few of our favorites.
Volvo V60 Polestar
The Volvo V60 is a sort of a station wagon, but not really. The cargo area increased by that much as compared to the sedan version, but it’s not its carry capacity that’s of concern to us. This is Volvo’s performance contribution to mid-sized vehicle category. Motive power comes from a turbocharged three liter six-cylinder engine that produces 350 horsepower. And just importantly the Polestar modifications are more abundant in the interior and the exterior differences might not be apparent on the road. The Volvo V60 Polestar registers a 0-60 time of 4.9, which most definitely earns its place on our list.
Honda Civic Si Sedan
When enthusiasts hear the name Honda Civic Si they invariably think of the coupe version. Many are unaware that there’s even a sedan version of the Honda Civic Si. A Honda sedan certainly qualifies to be on our list as so many are glued to the right lane of the freeway by drivers who appear to have never before been on a multilane highway. And there’s our disguise. With the exception of the wheels and some trim that would be hard to notice at highway speeds, the Honda Civic Si is powered by a 205 horsepower engine that produces 174 lb/ft of torque. While the Honda Civic Si sedan is the slowest car on our list, it ranks high on stealth, which earns itself a place on our list.
Buick Regal GS
Yes, you heard me right, a Buick Regal, the choice of millions of grandfathers across the country. When Buick realized that their buyers were dying off, they’d begun positioning itself as a young, hip, exciting brand. And no vehicle reflects that better positioning than the Buick Regal GS. Powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine with Variable Valve Timing, the Regal GS produces 259 horsepower and 295 ft/lb of torque. Helping to get the ponies to the ground is an AWD system, while stopping is handled by a pair of Brembo brakes up front. And while this Buick flies, it may take the rest of the world some to recognize the performance of the Regal GS rather than it being grandpa’s car.
OK, here’s a mind blower. Order yourself a base Ford F150 with the twin-turbo EcoBoost engine with its lighter aluminum construction (700 pounds less the a basic Chevy)and you’ve got yourself one hell of a stealth machine, and on the cheap no less. The 3.5 liter EcoBoost engine produces 365 horsepower . While no car magazine has tested the combination of the EcoBoost in the lightest truck in the line, they have tested the engine in bigger, heavier trucks. Those trucks saw a 0-60 time of 5.7, so our estimate is the lightweight may knock that down to about 5.5 seconds 0-60. And keep in mind, the times were generated on skinny 245/70R17 all-season truck tires, not performance rubber. Mostly likely you could add some subtle suspension mods and a slight increase in tire size without much notice. To cap it off, I’d install a couple of magnetics signs on each door with “Manny’s Tree Service” to add to the stealth effect. The Ford F150 3.5 EcoBoost most definitely belongs on our list.
Infiniti’s QX50 is basically the G35 in a smaller and taller package. You get the suspension right off the G35 as well as rear-wheel drive. Power comes from the silky smooth Infiniti V-6 325 horsepower DOHC engine and produces 0-60 times of 5.7 seconds. Its small dimensions and the distinct possibility that the QX50 could be mistaken for the less-capable Honda Pilot or Toyota RAV-4 certainly helps its stealth factor and earns the Infiniti QX50 a place on our list.
Talk about your ultimate stealth car. With all the charm of a rental car, the ubiquitous Camry is manufactured at a rate of 800,000 per year. So in the time it takes you to read this sentence, Toyota has just built another 15 Camrys. OK, so we’ve covered the Camry’s stealth factor, which no one could really deny, but how about performance? How’s this: Car and Driver compared a Camry to a Subaru WRX. They both registered the same 0-60 times (5.8 seconds) with the Camry was just 0.1 behind in the quarter mile. Chalk it up to Toyota’s 268 Horsepower 3.5 liter DOHC engine VVT-I valve timing. The Camry takes it from stealth and into some sort of super stealth mode.
So not only have we identified six vehicles capable of stealth fighter type running on the freeways, we’ve also discovered that what were once staid sedans now play in the league with many German cars. Take the Buick Regal with its 6.2 second 0-60 times that nearly 1 second faster to 60 mph than the BMW 320i, and for a few thousand dollars less as well. And the Camry is just a tick behind the BMW 328i. Unglaublich!
Categories: Gear Grinding